The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 6th

Professors denounce NC Republican legislature’s policies

Professors are handing out bad grades — not to students, but to the Republican majorities at the N.C. General Assembly.

The group, Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina, includes professors from private and public universities statewide.

Last week, the group held a public forum at Duke University called “Save Our State: Scholars Speak Out on North Carolina’s New Direction.”

The group says it is alarmed by the policies enacted by the Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory.

“We are concerned with what we see as the extreme right program being pushed through very quickly,” said Nancy MacLean, a professor of history at Duke.

MacLean said the group is not only concentrating on protecting education, but also on issues such as the prevention of Medicaid expansion and proposed changes to voting laws.

“All of the different things they are doing will harm the recovery in the state now, but will also set us back for generations to come,” she said.

MacLean said the group enables scholars to share their research knowledge and expertise on issues to better inform the public.

According to the group’s website, 18 of 65 affiliates are from UNC.

Hodding Carter III, a public policy professor at UNC who spoke at the forum but is not listed as an affiliate, said he is discouraged by state Republicans who treat education like a punching bag.

“They wish to stop what seems to them, and to many, a deliberate bleeding of vitality from our education,” Carter said. “They are killing the goose that laid the golden egg, which is education.”

But Jay Schalin, director of state policy analysis at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a conservative think tank in Raleigh, said he was surprised at the some aggressive comments.

“I thought that in some cases many of the comments were unbecoming of scholars,” he said. “They were hurling around rhetoric that was false. They were pretty much demonizing rather than engaging in any sort of reasonable discourse.”

Schalin said at one point, one of the professors at the panel said Republicans were driven by ideology but Democrats were not.

“Both parties are driven by ideology,” Schalin said. “It’s misleading to say otherwise.”

MacLean said the group is planning more events to follow last week’s forum.

“This is not a flash in the pan effort,” she said. “We are actively planning other events in Western and Eastern North Carolina. We do see it as a movement that will hopefully develop across the state.”

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